December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Pope Francis:  Successor to St. Peter ... the people's pontiff ... Marxist?

That's what conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh suggests, calling the Pope's latest document "pure Marxism."

Limbaugh blasted the pontiff on Wednesday, a day after Francis released "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), a 50,000-word statement that calls for church reform and castigates elements of modern capitalism.

Limbaugh's segment, now online and entitled "It's Sad How Wrong Pope Francis Is (Unless It's a Deliberate Mistranslation By Leftists)," takes direct aim at the pope's economic views, calling them "dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong."

The Vatican issued the English translation of "Evangelii," which is known officially as an apostolic exhortation and unofficially as a pep talk to the worlds 1.5 billion Catholics.

Francis - the first pope ever to hail from Latin America, where he worked on behalf of the poor in his native Argentina warned in "Evangelii" that the "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny."

The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

READ MORE: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

The Pope's critique of capitalism thrilled many liberal Catholics, who have long called on church leaders to spend more time and energy on protecting the poor from economic inequalities.

But Limbaugh, whose program is estimated to reach 15 million listeners, called the Pope's comments "sad" and "unbelievable."

"It's sad because this pope makes it very clear he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth."

In fact, Argentina was a battlefield between leftist socialists and right-wing security forces during much of Francis' early career in the country, where he was a Jesuit priest and later archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Limbaugh, who is not Catholic, said he admires the faith "profoundly."  He admired Pope Francis as well, "up until this," Limbaugh said.

The talk show host also said that he has made numerous visits to the Vatican, which he said "wouldn't exist without tons of money."

"But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," Limbaugh added. "This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope."

Limbaugh took particular issue with the Pope's criticism of the "culture of prosperity," which the pontiff called a "mere spectacle" for the many people who can't afford to participate.

"This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets," Limbaugh said. "He says that the global economy needs government control."

"I'm not Catholic, but I know enough to know that this would have been unthinkable for a pope to believe or say just a few years ago," Limbaugh continued.

In fact, Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, could be just as strong a critic of capitalism.

In 2009, Benedict, in an official church document called an encyclical, said there was an urgent need for "a political, juridical and economic order" that would "manage the global economy."

As Limbaugh notes, Benedict's predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, was a noted foe of communism, after living under its oppressions in his native Poland. But even John Paul thought that unregulated capitalism could have negative consequences.

In "Evangelii," Francis called for more of a spiritual and ethical revolution than a regulatory one.

"I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: `Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs,'" said Francis, quoting the fifth-century St. John Chrysostom.

Liberal Catholics defended Pope Francis on Monday, calling on Limbaugh to apologize and retract his remarks.

"To call the Holy Father a proponent 'pure Marxism' is both mean-spirited and naive," said Christopher Hale of the Washington-based Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. "Francis's critique of unrestrained capitalism is in line with the Church's social teaching."

Limbaugh is not the only conservative commentator to take issue with the Pope's views on capitalism.

READ MORE: Sarah Palin 'taken aback' by Pope Francis's 'liberal' statements

“I go to church to save my soul," said Fox News' Stuart Varney, who is an Episcopalian. "It’s got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics.”

It doesn't sound like the criticism is slowing Francis down, however. He's started sending a Vatican contingent, including the Papal Swiss Guards, into Rome to deliver food and charity.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Ethics • Media • Money & Faith • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis

soundoff (6,695 Responses)
  1. Michael

    CNN – c'mon put up nude pictures if you want viewers –
    but stop covering Limbaugh and helping him and validating him.
    Seriously, have a little editorial restraint.
    Even Kim K updates are more worthy than this moron.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Marci

      Thumbs up on that one!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • seriously

      8=====> penissssss

      December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  2. Parmeshwar Coomar

    This guy Limbaugh is out of control. Not only is he God less for being a capitalist, he is mind and intellect less. Pope calls for distribution of wealth for poor, else why would we have capitalists like Steve Jobs and others giving away billions of their wealth. Obviously Limbaugh is nowhere near this. All he wants is attention at all costs, to get some ears perked up. This is the way he thought it could be done. Shameless attention hogger at the best.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  3. bskb

    "The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.""

    As if it is any better to trust the goodness of those who vie for political power. I certainly trust the motives of a man who wants to sell me something for profit more than I trust a politician who profits from trading in the property and privileges of others.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  4. Frank

    15 million people listens to this guy? His radio station must have good commercials. Maybe its a comedy show. Trickle down economy does not exist, the real name should be trckle up. Because whatever leftover profits is made, still goes to the pockets of the rich owners and investors.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  5. Lemon Talks

    Primetime (Mon-Sun): 481,000 Total Viewers / 153,000 A25-54
    Total Day (Mon-Sun): 335,000 Total Viewers / 100,000 A25-54
    Primetime (Mon-Sun): 645,000 Total Viewers / 190,000 A25-54
    Total Day (Mon-Sun): 401,000 Total Viewers / 124,000 A25-54
    Fox News:
    Primetime (Mon-Sun): 2,011,000 total viewers / 348,000 A25-54
    Total Day (Mon-Sun): 1,201,000 total viewers / 248,000 A25-54



    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • MartinAmerica


      December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Linda

    its time somebody stopped this fool. he actually gets paid for this bull?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      if you do not listen to him why do you care?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  7. Alex

    Really? This is CNN's headline news today? There has got be something more important than Rush Limbaugh's opinion – haven't there been new sightings of the Loch Ness monster lately? Or maybe Bigfoot? Who cares what Rush Limbaugh thinks about the pope? How is this newsworthy? Shame on you CNN – you have been had.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  8. spudnik56


    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  9. Norm

    Of course Jesus was a liberal! Time and again when he walked amongst the poor he wasn't REALLY helping them. He was handing out brochures telling them about the new government program that he pushed through, all the subsidies that they would qualify for, and reminded that them non compliance would result is a fine.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  10. Tired of Silly1

    I'm a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, but Rush Limbaugh eats paint chips or something. The man is an embarrassment to real conservatives.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  11. Faux

    How or why is Rush Limbaugh still making news? He is irrelevant, his opinions are draconian, and he's been out of touch with reality for the past 20 years.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • martiniano

      Because there are a lot of ignorant, poorly educated white folk like "Lemon Talks" who need a daddy figure – a white daddy figure – to tell them how to think. As Rush said: "The ignorant will always be among you. Exploit them!"

      December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  12. Ima Pseudonym

    Limbaugh is an irrelevant old drug addict, desperately trying to hold onto his "relevance" in the media in order to keep the money rolling in. He, like any other pundit, is just preaching to his flock (i.e. his "customers") and telling them what they want to hear so they'll keep tossing cash his way.

    He's a lot like the televangelists who occasionally make outrageous remarks in order to get their names back into the media.

    Also look up the word "demagogue."

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  13. reenie

    If the Pope doesn't stand up for the poor, who will in today's world? Attacking the Pope now? Really? A new low......

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  14. MartinAmerica

    It's funny that news sources like CNN only highlight religion when they can use it against conservatives or capitalism (ironically to generate web clicks for advertising dollars). I assume they'll be highlighting the Pope's stance on abortion as a front page story?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • martiniano

      The Pope's message on abortion is "stop getting sidetracked with social issues" and start acting like Christ.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  15. Dada

    It is about time Limbough with his big mouth should be fired for good


    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  16. maggiemct

    And we're actually supposed to care what Rush thinks about the Pope? Right. As soon as pigs fly.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  17. edgyone

    Why is anyone surprised by a Franciscan pope calling for more alms for the poor? They must be missing some brain cells.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • DrWu2

      Willful giving to the poor is good but forced redistribution of material wealth to the masses defies the gift of free will that Creator bestowed on mankind.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  18. bkkrause

    Rush and Sarah...both the universal cures for world constipation, both work fast and leave
    no intellect...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  19. Erictheliberal

    I understand that this may be newsworthy... but front page? in bold? like something truly earth shattering happened (Air Disaster, Earthquake or Election results)? Come on CNN your Liberal is showing.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • martiniano

      It generates clicks. Look at your actions: you clicked the story (that's one point for CNN) then you stayed on it long enough to scroll to the comments (two points CNN) and you commented (3 points CNN). If enough people do what you did then CNN can raise their prices for advertisements because they can show that people read and take time to comment on their articles. It doesn't matter if the comment is negative or positive, all that shows up on the report is the number of clicks, average time on page and number of comments.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  20. Aaron

    I think Limbaugh needs to reread the Bible:

    Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

    Mat 6:19-21 "Do not save riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, save riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are."

    Mark 10:21-27,31: Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, "There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, "My children," he said to them, "how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." They were more astonished than ever. "In that case," they said to one another, "who can be saved?" Jesus gazed at them. "For men," he said, "it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God... Many who are first will be last, and the last first."

    Acts 2:44-45: All the believers joined together and shared everything in common; they sold their possessions and goods and divided the proceeds among the fellowship according to individual need.

    Acts 4:32,34-35: All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had... There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

    Luke 14:33 "Only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple."

    Luke 14:33 Concluded Jesus, "none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up everything he has."

    Luke 14:33 "Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."

    Luke 3:11 John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

    Luke 6:30 "Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you."

    Luke 14:12-14 "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

    Mat 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

    Luke 12:33 "Sell your possessions and give to the poor... "

    James 1:9-11 The brother who is in need may be proud because God has raised him to the true riches. The rich may be proud that God has shown him his spiritual poverty... Just as surely will the rich man and his ways fall into the blight of decay.

    Pope Francis knows exactly what he's talking about. On the other hand it appears that those who thump the Bible the hardest have never read it.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Norm

      Can you kindly point out where Jesus promotes large government agencies or forcing the rich to give up their wealth through high taxes? And are you really thinking that the verses cited would substantiate that, cuz I'm not really a fan of that whole mixing religion and government thing.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
      • martiniano

        Romans Chapter 13 – the whole chapter is about surrendering to your government.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • martiniano

          And keep in mind that Jesus did not fight for his freedom. He healed the Centurion's ear in Gesthemene. He gave his life willingly to a foreign occupation government. Gave his LIFE. And you worry about money.

          December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
      • DrWu2

        The left doesn't have a problem with religion mixing with politics when it benefits their political cause. When it doesn't they consider religion a joke and ascribe to secularism and atheism.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • UncleM

          I'm an independent fiscally conservative atheist. I consider all religions to be ridiculous (not a joke, because they are totalitarian and dangerous). However, despite being the head of a historically corrupt and often evil organization, this Pope appears to be a good human being (which you'll find most atheists aspire to without the threat of eternal damnation.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Katherine

      Well written, Aaron ... very well written. It would be very difficult for anyone to refute these facts, the facts of Christianity which prove that Mr Limbaugh and his 15 million listeners are no Christians, they are anti-Christian. Thank you for such a brilliant presentation.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • Katherine

        Also a very nice (and factual) retort, Martiniano.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.